WASHINGTON–South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s nominee to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the country must speak with a single voice in fighting the Islamic State, but she would not commit to supporting a declaration of war against the terrorist group.
Haley broke ranks with Trump on questions about U.S. relations with Russia, saying the U.S. must assert itself in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I don’t think we can trust them,” she said, citing Russia’s interference in U.S. elections, its annexation of Crimea, and in the Russian military’s involvement in Syria.
Several senators focused their questions on the ongoing battle against ISIS. Sen. Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, asked Haley whether she would support a congressional authorization for the use of military force against the terrorist group.
“I do think that [ISIS] has to be dealt with. I just think it needs to be done responsibly, knowing that we have a measurables on what we’re looking for, where the end goal is, and knowing where exactly the start and stop is,” she said. “I say that as the wife of a military combat veteran, I say that as a sister,” Haley said.
Although Haley has little international experience, she received considerable praise from committee members who expressed confidence that she would be confirmed.
“Diplomacy itself is not new to me,” the Republican governor said. “In fact, I would suggest there is nothing more important to a governor’s success than her ability to unite those with different backgrounds, viewpoints and objectives. For six years, that has been my work.”
Haley and the committee members spoke harshly about U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns Israeli settlements in in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In December, outgoing U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power abstained from voting on the resolution, a step Haley said she would “never” take. She said the abstention sent a bad signal to Israel and the world that America does not stand with its allies.
On the subject of U.N. peacekeepers, who have been accused of sexual abuse in a number of African countries, Haley said the United States must push to hold U.N. member states responsible for their actions and strengthen whistleblower protections.
Haley was one of 30 governors who called for a halt to resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. When asked how she would reconcile that position with the U.N.’s role in promoting refugee resettlement, Haley praised America’s longstanding tradition of admitting refugees. She based her opposition to resettling Syrians on a meeting with FBI Director James Comey, who did not convince her that Syrians were being thoroughly vetted.
The Obama administration and U.N. officials have said that Syrian refugees undergo more scrutiny than any other immigrant to the United States.